Awake was an album written by a quickly developing Dream Theater. Much controversy surrounds it, as many DT fans dislike while many love it. When I first heard it, I had to warm up some---that was almost a year ago and now it is the DT album I listen to most.
“6:00” is a fantastic opener. It’s a heavy rocker with an alternating 5/4-4/4 guitar line, doubled by the bass, creating a powerful sound. The pure genius of the tune (the best from DT?) always puts a smile on my face, and indeed, it helps carry the strength of the record. The great drumming (as always), guitars (as always), bass (as always) and singing (as usual??) accompanied by Kevin Moore’s tasteful organs are a good representation of Dream Theater’s sound. The guitar rise at 3:20 and solo at 5:20 are sure to please. The sound clips (“Six O’ Clock on a Christmas morning!” and “I know all about the love of God Mary Jane!”) reappear throughout Awake.
“Caught in A Web” is a great tune; the problem is the pitch wheel chords that sound cheesy. Outstanding performing from Petrucci, Myung, and Portnoy. In the early years Dream Theater couldn’t really pull off a ‘happy’ song; this happens on “Another Day” on Images & Words and here on “Innocence Faded”. It just sounds painfully fabricated. It began flowing naturally for DT on Metropolis Pt. 2 (or somewhere in between here and there). This is one song I wish was left off the record.
Regardless of how many dog songs you think are on Awake, you have to admit that the instrumental “Erotomania” rocks. This is one of my all time favorite songs. Kevin Moore rocks behind the keys, using a distorted organ sound instead of a cheesy synth. This is a well-structured jam that also begins the three part “A Mind Beside Itself”.
“Voices” is part two. It is one of the songs that stand out. The melodies at times are somewhat reminiscent of Queensryche (“Like a scream but sort of silent….”) and are very memorable. The theme behind this song, perhaps this album, is losing your faith. Heavy themes behind a heavy rocker. Disturbing soundbites add to the dark mood of the suite. Highly recommended.
“The Silent Man” closes the suite. I suppose this is a precursor to less awkward happy tunes like “The Spirit Carries On”. This is a very enjoyable song; it features an acoustic solo by Petrucci and great vocals from LaBrie. Its calm, soothing chorus contrast to the chaotic, dark “Voices”. It brings a feeling of resolution and closure to the suite, similar to “The Sphere” on Rush’s Hemispheres.
This feeling is completely shattered by “The Mirror”. The guitars provide a heavy rhythm and carry the piece into rockier themes. It progresses into a theme later revisited in “Space-Dye Vest”. By now you’ll be wondering where all the sound clips came from, and what they say. They aren’t credited in the sleeve.
“Lie” is really nothing new as far as the music goes. “Lifting Shadows Off A Dream” is a nice happy song composed by Myung. This song kind of drags on, basicly sunk by the cheesy orchestra synths. The beginning of ‘Scarred’ starts out with a solo somewhat reminiscent of David Gilmour. This song can’t really be described without listening to it. It’s the second best on the record. The best is “Space-Dye Vest”.
Don’t spend the bulk of your time listening to the last song trying to figure out what a space-dye vest is. It looks like rhyming words that don’t make sense were just put together. Beginning with a sorrowful piano (all composed by Moore), and escalating into a Floydish melody. The vocal line is awesome. More soundclips:
This is one of DT’s best.
Awake was an album created at a developmental stage in Dream Theater’s career. This was only the second album with LaBrie on vocals. The production was a little off---over-compressed drums and cheesy synths plague the music. Although there are several slow songs on the record, it is my favorite from DT at this point. If you haven’t heard any DT yet, Images and Words or Awake are good places to start.
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